The Radical Conservative Heritage Foundation Has Spent 40 Years Trying To Gut The Federal Budget. Now Trump Is Proving The Perfect Tool.
Heritage’s impact will be felt in the Trump administration’s budget proposal, expected in mid-March. Last year, Heritage published a blueprint for bringing the federal budget into balance that calls for reducing spending by $10.5 trillion and cutting taxes by $1.3 trillion over a decade. It aims a wrecking ball at virtually every law, program and institution that defends the environment or promotes green energy. It calls for opening up “all federal waters and all non-wilderness, non federal-monument lands to exploration and production” to fossil fuel, mining and other commercial interests. According to Greenpeace, Heritage received at least $780,000 from ExxonMobil between 1998 and 2012, and more than $5.7 million from foundations associated with fossil-fuel industrialists the Koch brothers between 1997 and 2014.
The Trump administration is widely expected to adopt much of that blueprint as its own. Paul Winfree, the former director of Heritage’s Institute for Economic Policy Studies, was named the White House director of budget policy. Heritage noted in late February that Winfree is “expected to play the starring role in drafting Trump’s first budget. … The proposal will likely include deep spending cuts at domestic agencies.” According to Politico, Trump plans to cut the Environmental Protection Agency by about one-fourth, or roughly $2 billion.
The Heritage influence can be seen in non-budgetary ways, too. Speaking at the annual National Prayer Breakfast in early February, Trump said he would “totally destroy” the Johnson Amendment, an IRS rule that prevents nonprofit organizations, including churches, from endorsing political candidates. The call to repeal it has been a consistent theme of Heritage. A September 2016 essay in The Daily Signal argued that pastors “should be accountable to God alone, not the IRS, for what they say behind the pulpit.”